What is a beacon and what to do with it

A beacon is small device that emits frames using a Bluetooth Low Energy protocol.

A beacon can emit frames in various formats. Nowadays, the most popular protocol is iBeacon (Apple technology). However, there are several other protocols on the market, such as Eddystone, which is an open-source format developed by Google.

A beacon emits frames at regular advertising intervals. These intervals can be manually updated.

A beacon emits frames at a given emission power that determines the reception range. This power can be modified as well.

Most beacons use batteries that have to be replaced after a given period of time.

The lifetime of the battery directly depends on the advertising interval and the emission power.

How are beacons detected?

Beacons are detected by an application, which is usually installed on a mobile phone (but it could be any other type of device with Bluetooth, e.g. a computer).

The application on the device launches a bluetooth scan that allows it to receive the beacon frames.

The scanning process is not continuous, because it is demanding in terms of battery-consumption. For example, the Android SDK allows developers to manage two main scan modes:

  • one with low latency/high scanning frequency, but high power consumption
  • one with low power consumption, but high latency/low scanning frequency

Therefore, for a beacon to be detected, it must emit a frame during the scanning interval of a device.

Note:

This means that a beacon emitting frames at small intervals (for example 300ms) will be detected faster than a beacon emitting at large intervals (for example 3s).

How can content be associated to a beacon?

A beacon does not contain the content itself that an application will display, but an key (or in some cases a url) to retrieve this content.

One of the great advantages of the ADTAG platform is that it enables you to manage beacons and their content from beginning to end, from field deployments and content association to massive content updates.

When an application has integrated our SDK, and detects a beacon, it connects to the Adtag Platform to retrieve and display the content associated to it.

Our SDK fully manages the beacon scanning process and the retrieval of the content from the Adtag Platform, thereby simplifying beacon content management for developers.

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